Teaching twins in the preschool classroom

If you have ever had a set of twins in your preschool classroom, you may have had to sort through some of the myths addressed by the experts in the most recent Bam Radio show I participated in: “Avoiding Mistakes in Teaching Twins.”

"Avoiding Mistakes in Teaching Twins" Rae Pica with Eve-Marie Arce, Susan M. Heim and Deborah J. Stewart

“Some educators have reported an increase in the number of twins in their classrooms. According to our guests,  there are a few myths and some misguided ideas about teaching twins that need to be corrected. In this segment we discuss what every educator and parent needs to know about teaching twins” (Bam Radio Show)

Here are some of the highlights shared by our experts that you should think about if you happen to have a set of twins in your preschool classroom…

1. There is no evidence or research that says separating twins in preschool makes a difference in their learning achievement.

2. Twins may come as a pair but teachers need to treat twins as individuals and not as a set when teaching the children.

3. Parents of twins should be consulted with and have a say in whether their twins should stay together or be separated.

4. Teachers should avoid labeling the twins in order to tell them apart – “That one is the athletic one.”

5. Parents are the best resource for helping teachers understand the emotional needs of their twins.

6. Don’t assume that just because the twins look alike, that they will like doing the same things. Have a variety of choices available in your classroom and let the children select from those choices based on their own unique interests and personalities.

What are your thoughts or experiences with twins in the preschool classroom? If you are a parent of twins or if you have experience teaching twins, I would love to hear your perspective on this topic…






  1. says

    Last year I had one twin in my class while my team teacher had the other. They had been going to our preschool since they were two and had been separated for their pre-k year and were again separated for their transitional, or early, kindergarten year. They thrived being in separate classes :) What was nice for the parents though is that they were being taught the same skills and were involved in the same activities since my team teacher and I follow the same plans so all the information was the same (and yes, they got two of everything, because they are individuals). As we began placing them for kindergarten we discussed with their parents whether they wanted them in the same class. Their mom came and shared with us that the twins wanted to be in separate classes since they already lived together and didn’t want to be in the same class too! After much thought, the twins will be in different classes come September-but I think it was a good choice. They have been in separate classes before and are able to work independently and cope with being apart.

    Thanks for this great discussion! I think each decision needs to be made in the best interest of the children :)

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      I love all the thoughtful attention you all gave to this and how you listened to the parent concerns and wishtes. It sounds like a well thought out decision by everyone involved!!

  2. Shelli says

    I had the very unusual and unique experience of having two sets of twins and two sets of triplets in my preschool at one time. All of the parents of these children had differing opinions about keeping their children together. For the first year they all stayed together in my classroom but for their second year of preschool the parents of one set of the twins and the parents of one set of the triplets asked to have their children separated. For both of those families it was a wise choice as their children became more able to work, play, grow as individuals without a sibling present. In the case of the twins, one of them was a mother hen and very controlling of her brother who was very dependent on her. In the case of the triplets, they fed off of each other’s negative behaviors which really got in the way of their learning at any level. For the other two families who chose to keep their twins and triplets together it was again a wise choice as those five children all had a successful year as well. It just goes to show how important it is to make a well thought out decision with the best interests of the children at heart.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Wow – these are terrific examples of how each set of twins have their own specific needs. Thank you for sharing your well thought out process for making great decisions Shelli!

  3. Sarah says

    I had a set of b/g twins in Pre-K,. The girl had severe CP and was profoundly impaired. Them other was grateful that my Pre-K class was fully integrated because she knew this was the only year they would get the chance to be in class together. In kindergarten and beyond the girl has went to a special school. It was a joy to see how her brother interacted with her. :)

  4. lisa says

    I had identical Hispanic twins in my class two years ago. Interestingly enough they couldn’t tell themselves apart in photos. I could tell them apart MOST of the time by their actions but not always. They often dressed alike but one wore white shoes and one wore black shoes. Last year when I didn’t see them daily I often had trouble telling them apart. I called on of them the wrong name and he pointed to his shoes and said no, BLACK shoes! lol

  5. Cindy says

    As an identical twin with fraternal twin brothers (as well as an ECE teacher) one thing I’ve noticed is that when twins are introduced as twins, people automatically look for similarities and have difficulty keeping the names straight, even if they don’t look much alike. We spent time together and, more often, in separate classes and to us it really didn’t matter a whole lot after the first few days. One thing that my mother did that helped with the dressing alike issue was that we would dress in similar outfits but in different colors because she couldn’t stand the idea that one would be seen as cuter than the other. Once we were old enough to choose our own clothes, we were allowed to do so. As with most things in the education world, individuality is what should guide the decisions about whether to keep together or separate multiples.

  6. Stacy says

    I believe that in some states, it has become a law that parents are given a choice about separating twins.

  7. bre says

    I was just discussing this with my classroom aide. This year, we will have 2 sets of twins and 3 sets of siblings in our classroom. 1 pair of twins and 2 sets of siblings in 1 class, and 1 pair of twins and 1 set of siblings in the other class. Last year I had two sets of siblings in 1 class. I made sure to always include two of everything, since I dont want to leave a kid out. It will be very interesting this year with all of my multiples/siblings. In my classroom, I like to do alot of family take home projects. I feel that it is important for the families to be involved as much as possible. With my siblings pairs, I would get two projects. Sometimes, the older child’s project would be better than the younger child’s project. I would always feel so bad. I had a parent tell me they didnt want the younger child doing the same thing as their older child because it wasnt fair to them….I just felt it was odd. They excluded the younger child out of open house events and things like that since he “Wasnt ready” and it was the older child’s last year. It will be very interesting this year to see how this child does since his sibling is in k now.

    My sisters were twins and they did everything together. The school we went to would not let my parents put them in the same class, which was acually great for them. They learned how to be independent and to be their own person.

  8. says

    I have a pair of twin boys. My fraternal twins looked alike. I feel that everybody look different and all it takes is a bit of observation and effort to tell them apart. However, it’s too much of an effort for many and they are called “twins” and not by their name. I had to speak to the teachers to stop calling them twins during the first term. If teachers regard them as an individual and stop associating them as one entity, there’ll be less confusion. My boys’ teacher are often very confused when telling me about them. I don’t blame them but I feel that a lot of confusion can be minimized if we treat twins as individual and stop comparing them. It will be good to be more sensitive to their feelings when speaking to parents with the children present. Instead of “Twin 1 is more active than Twin 2″, teachers can say “Twin 1 is very active”.

  9. says

    I’ve taught several sets of twins, and it was always a positive experience. I don’t understand why many teachers are adamant about separating them. I think it should be the parents’ choice, especially in the early childhood years. When I’ve had a twin who was separated from their sibling, they tended to worry about their sibling, and wanted to check on them often.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      That is a good point Karen – it can cause some unnecessary stress. Perhaps teachers prefer separation because it is easier for the teacher? I am not sure but agree – it needs to be a parent’s choice.

  10. Nanci says

    I smiled as I read so many of these posts. I am a mother of identical twin boys, and as an added pleasure, I was their Kindergarten teacher. (very small town, I was the only K teacher) In the following years, sometimes they were in same class, sometimes not. They had many of the same friends and interests. Both have doctorates in Physical Therapy. Every child is different, and having taught MANY twins and triplets; let the parents help in the decision of their child’s placement.

  11. says

    Oh, I had missed this post in the past and I’m so glad it caught my eye in your sidebar today!! I have taught twins, and of course, I’m also a mother of twins. First and foremost, THANK YOU, for posting this – especially points #1 & #3! I have fought for (and won, thankfully) families with twins on that issue. It always makes me cringe when I hear school personnel say that their “general policy” is to separate multiples.

    The only other point I’d bring up is that I’ve often noticed that the twin relationship tends to be discounted almost entirely when the twins are of opposite genders. This is very offensive to families. All sets of multiples have a unique and special relationship with one another regardless of gender and educational staff need to understand and respect this.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Great point to add Holly. I actually have a set of twins in my class this year and one is a boy and the other a girl! I will try to keep in mind your advice:) Thanks so much!

  12. Leanne says

    I have had two sets of twins in my 4k class ( as well as triplet, but his siblings were at other schools).

    Having fraternal twins in my classroom worked out well last school year, with only the occasional difficulty when it was one of the siblings turn to be student of the week and the other had to wait for their week. It was a good life lesson though… not everything will be the same for both of them all the time!

    I have identical twins this year who are VERY identical… and wear the same clothing nearly every day. They function very well working together and separately… but I admit, I have a hard time telling them apart. I try my hardest to call them by the correct name, but when in doubt, I’ll ask! They don’t mind telling me :-).

    As for the one triplet I had… his mother said separating them into different classes was the best thing she could have done, because they got along a lot better during home time after having some time alone.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      How interesting that the parent made that observation about the triplets have some time alone! I have twins now in my class – they are a boy and a girl. I am enjoying learning about them this school year.

  13. Tracy Katz says

    I have had 2 sets of twins in my class, one set was identical and this year I have a boy and girl, with this situation I let them stay together if they choose to till the comfort level is there, once this is achieved I seperate for snack, centers, etc. During our circle time the children are allowed to choose their spots and 10 times outta 10 they sit together which is fine with me. I always want them to have a positive experience but a seperate experience, I believe this is important for them to grow as indiviuals. I get to know them seperately like all the other children, I believe I have to have a connection and bond with each child. I love getting to know all of our children.

  14. says

    I am a parent of twin identical boys and they attended the school district special ed preschool program so that they could get help with speech therapy and general delays associated with being twins. it was a bit concerning when they started off with different speech pathologists and shortly combined them to one. Then on the last day of school they sent home the photo they took of the children to hang in there locker so the children could identify them was labeled wrong. It was the right name but the wrong twin in the pictures. So they confused the two. So every day the children had to go to a locker that was his name but his brothers’ picture??? Weird. Twins may Look alike but they definitely can tell the difference between themselves even in pictures. I feel they were definitely treated as one child. After that, I got creative with their haircuts so people could tell them apart more.

    • Deborah J. Stewart, M.Ed. says

      Wow – that is really kind of a sad story! I would hate knowing that I had a set of twins mixed up all year long. I am glad you are taking the initiative to help with this – if nothing else, for your children!! Wow – what a weird thing for sure!